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THE BYZANTINE AND GREEK CHURCHES

The Christian Church started in the Middle East. As it spread across the known world, each region evolved its own expression of the Apostolic Tradition. There are two heritages that dominate Christianity today: the Eastern and the Western. Western Christianity has influenced the societies of western and northern Europe. The rest of Europe, Asia and Africa was influenced by Eastern Christianity.

For the first few centuries of Christianity there were five great Apostolic Churches located in the most important, powerful, religiously significant cities of the ancient world — Jerusalem, Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria. Each of these great Churches has Apostolic origins: Saint James the Brother of the Lord was the first bishop of Jerusalem; Saints Peter and Paul founded the Church in Antioch; Saint Peter later presided in Rome; Saint Andrew, his brother, presided in Constantinople; and, Saint Mark the Evangelist founded the church in Alexandria.

It is from the Roman church that most European and American churches draw their traditions and rituals. Some Eastern Churches drew their inspiration from Constantinople. These Eastern Christians are often called "Greek" because their origins are in the Greek-speaking Roman empire of the eastern Mediterranean. They are often called Byzantine as well.

The Eastern Christian churches today belong to many groups and families, some of which are AntiochianArmenian, Coptic, Greek, Melkite, Russian, Ruthenian, Syriac, and Ukrainian. Some are Catholic while others are Orthodox.

THE MELKITE GREEK-CATHOLIC CHURCH

The Christian Church was born in the Holy Land — what we call the Middle East today. As the church spread, it took on the ways of the nations that accepted it. In America, most Christian churches are Western because their roots are in Western Europe, and their ways reflect the culture of the Western Europeans who founded them.

Some American churches, including ours, were started by people from Eastern Europe or the Middle East. They still keep the ways of the Holy Land: Jerusalem, where Christ founded His Church; Antioch, where the followers of Jesus were first called "Christians"; Damascus, where Saint Paul was converted; Tyre and Sidon, where the Lord healed the Syro-Phoenician woman. Because our ways reflect this Eastern culture, we are called an Eastern Church.

At the time of the Early Church, there were several rich cultures in the Middle East, and each of them gave rise to a different church tradition. The traditions of our church reflect the Greek or Byzantine culture, and so we are called Greek Catholics, or Byzantine Catholics (from Byzantium, the ancient name for Constantinople).

Greek Catholics in the Middle East were also called Melkite because they followed the faith of the Byzantine emperor (melek) in supporting the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon.

As Eastern Christians, we have a particular style of Christian living all our own. We especially stress:
A belief in our call to be divinized, “to become”, as Saint Peter the Apostle says, “partakers of the divine nature”
Union with God through the Holy Mysteries
A public life of worship, fellowship, and service
A personal life of prayer, fasting, and sharing with others

As members of God's family, we belong to one another, and so we live an active community life as Church. Most importantly, we join one another in worship. Our style of worship in the Eastern Churches reflects the presence of the risen Christ among us in glory and joy. All the senses take part in our worship to express this glory. We see icons, vestments, candles; we smell incense and perfumes; we hear continual singing; we taste blessed foods; and, we use physical gestures such as bowing, prostrating and crossing ourselves to express our wonder at the glory of God.

Another important aspect of our community life is our joy in each other's company, expressed in the frequent meals and social times we share. Finally, we open ourselves to support one another in the trials of daily life. In this way, the unity we celebrate at the Eucharist is lived out day by day.

Our beliefs and practices date from the earliest days of Christianity in the Holy Land. By continuing to observe them, we maintain a living connection with the early Church. We cherish our Tradition as a continuous stream flowing from the first Christians to us under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

THE HISTORY OF ST. GEORGE CHURCH IN SACRAMENTO

The Melkite Church originated in Jerusalem and Antioch, where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians. It is one of the largest Christian Churches in the Holy Land. Melkites first settled in the United States over a century ago, but the recent situation in the Middle East has compelled even greater immigration. St. George Melkite Greek-Catholic Church is the oldest community in Sacramento that is linked to the native Christians of the Holy Land.

1976 Father Max Chalhoub, of blessed memory, arrives in San Francisco to start a Melkite Church
1977 St. George holds liturgy at Joe Halaway’s L’il Joe’s Restaurant
1978 Manawel Khoury finds church property on 1620 Bell Street
1979 Father Max celebrates the first Palm Sunday and Pascha at the church
1980 Father Max departs to establish St. John of the Desert in Phoenix, AZ
  Father Maximos Mardelli, of blessed memory, arrives
1981 Patriarch of Antioch Maximos V Hakim, of blessed memory, visits
1982 Archbishop Joseph Tawil, of blessed memory, visits
1984 Father Maximos Mardelli transfers to St. Elias the Prophet in San Jose, CA
  Father Gus Deasio arrives
1986 Father Gus transfers to St. Joseph in Akron, OH
  Father Jim Babcock arrives
1989 Father Jim transfers to Holy Cross in Placentia, CA
  Father Basil Adcock becomes the temporary administrator
1990 Father Ken Sherman arrives
1991 Father Ken transfers to St. Nicholas in Rochester, NY
  Father Mark Melone is installed by Archbishop Ignatius
1993 Parishioner James Graham ordained a priest at St. George
1995 Heavy rains collapse roof of church and rectory
1996 Bishop John Elya, Exarch of Newton, re-conscecrates new Cross
2000 Dominican Father Brendan McAnerney joins our parish from Ashland, Oregon
2003 St. George celebrates its Jubilee year!
2005 Archbishop Cyril Bustros, Eparch of Newton, visits
2011 Father Mark transfers to St. Joseph in Lawrence, MA
  Father Brendan becomes Pastor
2016 Deacon Dorotheos ordained by Bishop Samra
  Father Brendan retires, remaining in residence as the Pastor Emeritus
  Father Hezekias is appointed the Parish Administrator
2017 Father Hezekias is appointed Pastor

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